Alumnus finds purpose as an elementary school teacher

Stephen Flemming frequently advocates for the city’s public schools.

Stephen Flemming talks to press and a crowd about endorsing Jim Kenney for Mayor of Philadelphia on March 16. | COURTESY Stephen Flemming
Stephen Flemming talks to press and a crowd about endorsing Jim Kenney for Mayor of Philadelphia on March 16. | COURTESY Stephen Flemming

Room 207 in John B. Kelly Elementary School was instructed to settled down. The third-grade teacher clicked off the lights and turned on classical music for their after-lunch ritual: quiet time.

The teacher, Stephen R. Flemming, 29, sat in a desk chair with eyes focused on the students to monitor movement. Light sounds of shuffling feet echoed in the semi-quiet room as the children slowly decreased their energy.

Flemming is a College of Education alumnus. He is an eight-year teacher at John B. Kelly Elementary School, but this is his first time teaching a third-grade class.

“The experience has been different from teaching [this younger class],” he said. “Third graders are much younger than middle school students, so it’s been quite an adjustment.”

Outside of the classroom, Flemming advocates on students’ behalf by frequently attending town meetings and political forums.

“I chose to be a public forthcoming advocate for public education because I see that it’s the students in public schools that tend to go without [resources],” Flemming said. “We experience first hand, every day, the effects of school budget cuts, and I feel it necessary to speak out, because a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.”

Flemming is also the school’s building representative and speaks out about public education through social media accounts, like his Twitter account, @kellygrade6,  and blog sites. He uses the sites to not only advocate for the school district, but to give his students homework and other information they can retain.

“I advocate on Twitter, I write on my blog on, I speak out at School Reform Commission meetings, on television, editorials and more,” he said.

He said the SRC meetings consist of members who are appointed by the governor and mayor and those meetings are open to the public, in which he takes every advantage by attending.

Tasha Davis, a mobile psychology rehab specialist who as is a childhood friend of Flemming, described him as “an awesome, caring man of God.”

Flemming is also the Sunday School teacher for young people at his church, Christ Haven Worship Center. Some refer to him as “unc” or “Uncle Steve,” he said.

“I love my unc,” said JaVanna Wilkins, one of Flemming’s Sunday school students. “He’s always supportive of us, and he knows how to communicate with us in a way most couldn’t or wouldn’t. It’s almost like he’s one of us.”

Mercedes Bradley, another of Flemming’s students said, “He always corrects in a way where we’ll get it. He’s always passionate about everything he does.”

“At a young age I had the opportunity to realize my dream, ” he said. “It has always been my desire to teach. I love what I do. And despite requests to leave the classroom, I still remain.”

Ashley Caldwell can be reached at

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.